Glossary of Online Learning Terms

computer-based training (CBT)
Individualized instruction delivered to trainees via computer application.
distance learning
A term encompassing all learning that takes place at locations remote from the point of instruction. Distance learning may take the form of an instructor-led course delivered via satellite to multiple remote locations. Distance learning may also be training applications delivered via computer networks to students at any network node. Web-based training is one distance learning method in that the training application resides on a Web server while students may use the training from any location that can access the server.
electronic performance support system (EPSS)
Applications designed to run simultaneously with other applications or embedded within other applications that provide support for the user in accomplishing specific tasks. An EPSS may provide needed information, present job aids, and deliver just-in-time, context-sensitive training on demand. A Web-based performance support system (WBPSS) is an EPSS that uses Web technology to deliver support in an enterprise environment.
Instructional Systems Design (ISD)
A formal process for designing training, be it computer-based or traditional instructor-led training. The ISD process, as applied to CBT and WBT, suggests a comprehensive needs analysis, user analysis, design document (including flowcharts, storyboards, and evaluation procedures), application prototype, finished computer application, usability testing, and effectiveness evaluation.
Multimedia describes any application that uses multiple media (graphics, text, animations, audio, video). However, multimedia is primarily thought of as any application that uses high-bandwidth media (audio and video) and is most often delivered on CD-ROM. Multimedia does not describe the purpose of the application, such as game, presentation, or CBT. Nor does multimedia describe the delivery media, such as CD-ROM, only the nature of media used in the application. CBT and WBT may also be considered multimedia applications if they incorporate multiple media to meet instructional objectives.
universal playback
WBT that plays unaltered on any common computer system. Universal playback is a reality since Web browsers, the playback engines, exist for DOS/Windows, Apple Macintosh, and UNIX operating systems. Although HTML, JAVA, and VRML, the languages of Web browsers, are undergoing rapid changes, these languages are not platform-specific.
user-centered design
Application design that considers the needs of the end user as paramount. In CBT/WBT design, user-centered means designing for maximum instructional effectiveness and usability while allowing the end user control over the learning process.
Web browser
A software application that displays hypermedia-rich documents delivered from network server(s). Many different browsers are available for text-based and graphics-based operating systems and hardware.
Web-based performance support system (WBPSS)
A Web-based system that provides on-demand access to information, job aids, and context-sensitive training. A WBPSS supports users in accomplishing specific tasks. WBPSS is an extension of EPSS intended to deliver support in an enterprise environment.
Web-based training (WBT)
Individualized instruction delivered over public or private computer networks and displayed by a Web browser. WBT is not downloaded CBT, but rather on-demand training stored in a server and accessed across a network. Web-based training can be updated very rapidly, and access to the training controlled by the training provider.


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